Broc wrote:I have a British friend from London who visits here on business, and I get embarrassed sometimes when he speaks quickly and I have to go "huh?". I am sure I must sound equally puzzling to him if I speak rapidly. Also, I doubt I'd ever try to guess between Australian and British accents. I don't hear enough of them to judge accurately and would hate to offend someone.
If you want a fairly enjoyable -- depending on your taste of course -- lesson in English as spoken by a large portion of Londoners, you could try watching the TV show "Lie To Me", starring Tim Roth as an expert in body language and facial expressions. He puts on quite an unrestrained working class London accent.
Not quite Cockney (at least he doesn't use rhyming slang, thank god) and I doubt an American could tell the difference anyway.
Depending on your friend's upbringing, he could have a milder, more middle class version of that (I won't go into all the detailed stuff about glottal stops, etc.), or maybe a completely different "London" accent, more associated with the privileged classes. "Received pronunciation" (not sure why it's called that), but think of John Cleese, BBC announcers of the 60's, members of the aristocracy (although theirs is an even more extreme version if you've ever heard the queen), and Hugh Laurie when he isn't playing "House" (no pun intended).
Anyway, my American friend liked the show, and I was able to provide her with instant translation services for Roth's elisions, shortened vowels and generally incomprehensible (to Americans) speech. So it could be good practice for you.
Of course the plot is the same each week - a crime is committed, Roth's character is brought in to interview the suspects, he spots their lies and the bad guy is caught. Usually there is a side-plot as well, but that goes the same way.